Guinness plc

– in the House of Commons at 4:09 pm on 14th January 1987.

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Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke , Monklands West 4:09 pm, 14th January 1987

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that some weeks ago I endeavoured to draw the attention of the House to the number of job losses in my constituency arising from the Guinness takeover. I seek your guidance principally because in today's issue of The Independent there are two articles, the first of which is headed, "£200m Guinness slush fund" and the second: Guinness's second secret Boesky link".[Interruption.] With great respect, the House is aware that you, Mr. Speaker, not individual Members, rule whether a matter is in order.

These important articles tell us that a Department of Trade and Industry inquiry is being undertaken at present, but no formal indication of that matter has been given to the House. The House knows how well you seek to protect our interests. How can an hon. Member find out from the Department of Trade and Industry precisely what is taking place about job losses and broken promises, and how we can bring these matters into the public domain?

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for listening to what I have had to say. I seek your advice most sincerely on how this most important matter can be pursued.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that today the board of Guinness received a full report on the Department of Trade and Industry's inquiry? We understand that tomorrow the shareholders are to receive a special statement on the inquiry. We read that the Prime Minister has already received a private presentation of the report of the inquiry. The only interested body which, apparently, is not to be favoured with a statement is Parliament. May I urge you to reflect overnight whether Parliament can continue to command respect if it is not given the opportunity to consider a matter of daily press comment which relates to the biggest city scandal for generations and involves a slush fund which is big enough to enable us to double the fuel payments proposed by the Government?

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is some difficulty in raising this matter in the House for two reasons which you should bear in mind, especially as we can discuss most issues properly. First, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is unable to speak on this issue because of the close association of his family with the whole affair. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] That causes other difficulties. As the investigation has been set up in such a way that it will continue beyond the general election, we are unable to discuss the matter even with junior Ministers. How can you assist the House to enable the matter to be discussed?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the matter had the urgency and importance claimed by the Opposition, would you not allow them to change yet again the subject for today's debate so that they could raise this matter properly? Would you allow them to do that if they asked?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The proper way to deal with the matter is to table questions to the Department. That is what hon. Members should do.